Technology and Small Business

Appnuity LLC: IT firm targets small businesses, not-for-profits Web-hosted services one of the company's fastest-growing areas

April 4, 2005

Appnuity founders David Eckel and Mark Castelli started their information technology business in 1999 specifically to serve this client base. They provide a wide array of personal-computer network solutions, Web site application development, Web-hosted services and structured cabling, which is determining the type of cabling needed to support current and future technology needs.

The partners' skills complement each other. Eckel, 33, who is president and CEO, has experience as a network technician and sales consultant. Castelli, 34, is Appnuity's vice president of technology and its network engineer. He worked as a help-desk support staffer, management information specialist manager and as a network engineer before co-founding Appnuity.

The two met when the company Castelli was working for hired the firm Eckel was with at the time. About a year later, the two went to work for another small IT shop.

When Eckel and Castelli decided to start Appnuity, their formal business plan was to make it to the next year, Eckel said. "When we left the previous company, we didn't ask any of our customers to come along, but many did, so we had revenue from day one."

Castelli added, "We started receiving calls and all of a sudden, our new client base was our old client base."

One challenge the two faced early on was learning to say no. "When you're starting, you ask yourself, 'Do we have enough revenue?' So you say 'yes' a lot," Eckel said. "The challenge was truly to determine what is good business and what is bad business, and to realize that it's OK to say 'no.'"

Appnuity's revenue reached $1 million in 2004.

One of the fastest-growing areas for Appnuity is in hosted services, where the firm offers Internet access, hosted e-mail and spam filtering. The eight-employee, northside company offers 24/7 service to its customers, who are based largely in Marion and Hamilton counties.

"Most of the time our customers don't have IT staff, so we truly fulfill that need of being that 'in-house' person," Eckel said. "We attend staff meetings, we help with budgeting. We provide all of the IT needs for a small business." Sixty percent of Appnuity's clients are not-for-profits and 40 percent are small businesses, Eckel said.

One of Appnuity's not-for-profit clients is the Indianapolis-based Central Indiana Community Foundation. Greg McMillen, vice president and chief information officer for the CICF, said three words describe Appnuity: responsive, creative and knowledgeable. "They are there when I need them, even if it is the last minute," McMillen said. "The design team delivers our message with an artist's genius. And they know their business, and take the time to understand ours."

Others clients, such as homeowner referral service Angie's List, have IT staff to handle their routine needs, but hire Appnuity for specialized network assistance. Scott Brenton, chief operating officer for Indianapolisbased Angie's List, said Appnuity is a good partner.

"Our building was struck by lightning on Mother's Day in 2003," he said. "I called David and Mark, and both came right away. We purchased everything we needed to make the repairs locally, and our Web site was only down six hours. We never missed a phone call."

The secret to Appnuity's success, the pair believes, is it's long-term relationship with its clients. "Where some competitors sell a product, install it and leave, we want to recommend the product, install it and maintain it, Eckel said"

Castelli added, "I think one advantage we have is that David and I still go out there and do the work."


David Eckel, left, and Mark Castelli co-founded Appnuity LLC in 1999 after working together at another IT shop.
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